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Free agents, player options and a major expiring deal await Wizards

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Free agents, player options and a major expiring deal await Wizards

Now that the Wizards' season is over, and the NBA draft is next month with a No. 19 overall pick, the bigger picture is the offseason. They'll have decisions to make on the roster which has four unrestricted free agents, two player options and a mammoth contract that will be expiring:

  • Rasual Butler: The forward appeared a total of 7:29 in the postseason, both times in a first-round series with the Toronto Raptors. Butler was on a veteran minimum deal of $1.4 million and given how much he cost he brought a lot of value early when the Wizards got out to a 31-15 start. He sputtered late. At 35, he started to lose his legs though he could still find a roster spot somewhere because shooters at the end of benches are always needed.

  • Drew Gooden: At 6-10, he gave the Wizards a viable option off the bench behind Nene because he could stretch the floor to the three-point line. Gooden completed his second consecutive season with the Wizards and can find an NBA job if he still wants to play at 33. He'll no longer be collecting amnesty paychecks from the Milwaukee Bucks, and if the Wizards want him to stay it'll be closer to the vet minimum of $1.4 million again. Gooden has size, versatility and is content with his role. That makes him the strongest possible returnee amongst this group.

  • Will Bynum: The 6-0 guard signed in late March and played spot minutes on a pro-rated salary. When John Wall went down with a broken left wrist, Bynum's presence was key in helping them win Game 3 with clutch free throws to end the game. Bynum was added to bolster a bench that was thin on guard play. It's not very likely that he stays given that the primary backup role belongs to Ramon Sessions and the Wizards probably want to add a better shooter.

  • Kevin Seraphin: He's not returning. The center scored a career playoff high 13 points in Game 6. He wants playing time and a chance to start, and with Marcin Gortat entering the second year of a five-year deal that pays him an average of $12 million per, Seraphin will have to go elsewhere. He'll command more money in the open market than what the Wizards would be willing to offer him as a backup.

  • Paul Pierce and Garrett Temple: Both have player options. Temple will play, obviously, and has a good rapport with coach Randy Wittman because of his work ethic and commitment to defense. Every playoff team has a sparsely used player off the bench who can defend the perimeter and they come inexpensively (Temple made the $980,00 vet minimum). At 6-6, he's also great on the practice court when pushing Wall and Bradley Beal. Last season, the Miami Heat, who had Temple in training camp, made him an offer but he chose the Wizards. Pierce, 37, might choose to retire. If he does opt to play, it'll be in Washington but perhaps in a reduced role at small/power forward.

  • Nene: The 6-11 forward is owed $13 million. It's a large contract but it is expiring which could make him a valuable trade chip February 2016. 

[MORE WIZARDS: Paul Pierce sounds ready to retire after 17 seasons]

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The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards returned to Washington, D.C. on Friday down 0-2 to the Raptors in their best-of-seven 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series

The team lost a close one in Game 1 and was run out of the building in Game 2. Game 3 was must-win, and the Wizards knew what needed to happen in order for them to secure the victory.

"Everybody eats." 

That's the phrase that has defined the Wizards throughout much of the season They are at their best when John Wall is making plays and feeding his teammates.

On Friday night, the Wizards beat the Raptors 122-103 to force at least a Game 5. Wall finished with 28 points and 14 assists.

Bradley Beal finally broke out of his slump for 28 points and  Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott and Kelly Oubre all chipped in with at least 10 points.

But the stat sheet wasn't the only place where everybody eats.

Here's Marcin Gortat from Game 3. 

But if pantomiming isn't your thing, here is Bradley Beal actually eating popcorn during Game 3.

So what did we learn in Game 3? Well, for starters: "Everybody Eats" is not just a motto, it is a way of life.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

The Toronto Raptors were only going to hold Bradley Beal down for so long. After two so-so games to begin the Wizards-Raptors playoff series, the All-Star shooting guard was bound to find his way offensively and that arrival came in a Game 3 win on Friday night.

Beal was brilliant and much more in line with what he's shown in the postseason throughout his career. Game 2 was his worst playoff game as an NBA player, he scored only nine points. Game 3 was one of his best on the postseason stage, or at least one of his most timely and important.

The Wizards needed more from Beal to give themsevles a chance in this series. An 0-3 deficit would have been a death sentence. His production is so key to their success that head coach Scott Brooks and point guard John Wall met with Beal in between Games 2 and 3 to figure out how to get him going.

Whether that was the catalyst or not, the results followed. Beal poured in 28 points in 10-for-19 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. He hit four threes, more than he had in the first two games combined.

Beal wasted no time to make an impact scoring the ball. His first points came on a quick burst to the basket where he stopped on a dime, turned around and banked it in. By the end of the first quarter, he had 12 points in 11 minutes.

“I just wanted to be aggressive, get shots that I wanted which is what they were going to force me to take," Beal said.

After Game 2, Brooks and Beal described how physical the Raptors were defending him. They were holding on to him and staying close, even when he wasn't moving off the ball.

Brooks saw a difference in how Beal responded to that in Game 3.

"Brad came out and was looking to go towards the basket and not just letting them hold him and going along with it. He didn’t want to dance with his opponent, he wanted to get away from them. That was a critical part of his success," Brooks said.

Beal's 28 points were as much as he scored in Games 1 and 2 together and just about what he averaged through four games against the Raptors during the regular season (28.8). By halftime of Game 3, Beal had 21 points on 8-for-11 from the field.

Beal hit two threes in the first quarter and another two in the second quarter. Several of those threes were set up by Wall, who used the meeting with Brooks and Beal to ask how he can set him up better as the point guard.

In Game 3, they were on the same page.

"I do think this man [John Wall] next to me, he creates and facilitates for the whole team and gets everybody easy shots," Beal said. "I talk to you guys all the time and I can’t tell you the last time I actually got a regular catch and shoot three just in a regular half court set. When he came back, I got like three or four off the bat."

What Beal did in Game 3 is what the Wizards are used to seeing from him this time of the year. Despite being only 24 years old, he has a strong track record in the playoffs.

Through 37 career postseason games, Beal is averaging 22.3 points, more than his career average of 18.7 in the regular season. In each of his previous three postseason runs, he has averaged more points during the playoffs than he did in the regular seasons leading up.

That production has earned him the nickname 'Playoff Beal' and when he goes off like he did in Game 3, good things usually happen. The Wizards are 10-6 in the playoffs during his career when he scores 25 points or more.

Wall also boasts impressive career numbers in the playoffs. When the Wizards have both of their stars playing at their best, they are hard to beat. With peak Beal on board, this series looks a lot different than it did not that long ago.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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